Master Class: Starting Something Stupid

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Andrew: This session is about how to start a great business idea by using the power of starting with something stupid. The session is led by Richie Norton. He is the author of the “Power of Starting Something Stupid, How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret.” I will help facilitate. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy and it’s an honor to have you on here Richie.

Richie: It’s an honor to be here. Thanks for having me, Andrew. I’m really excited. It’s going to be fun.

Andrew: So we pulled out a few ideas from your book, here they are that we’ll be talking about today. And walking people through the framework that you’ve outlined in your book. But it happened that a few years back something terrible happened to you that set you on a new path. What was that thing? What happened?

Richie: It was actually a couple of things.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Richie: We were living in Hawaii and my brother-in-law, he lived on and off with us for about five years. And, to make a long story short, one day he just didn’t wake up. He passed away in his sleep.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Richie: And it was totally unexpected. And this experience literally just crushed us and made us really rethink what is life? We say that life is short and that’s cliche, but even though that’s cliche doesn’t make it any less true, right? And we just started rethinking everything we were doing. Life really is short and we think we’re going to have all this time to do all the things we want to do, when reality for my brother-in-law, it just wasn’t that way.

Andrew: Yeah.

Richie: A few years later, you know, we had our fourth son and we named him Gavin after my brother-in-law, Gavin…

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Richie: …who had passed away. And this Gavin, he brought so much joy into our lives and he kind of filled the hole that his uncle had left in his own little way. Well, Gavin, over time, he ended up getting cough and we didn’t know what it was. We took him to the doctor and they said he’d be fine. We took him to the doctor again and they said maybe it was something called RSV. It just kept coming and it persisted.

And we ended up one night going to the hospital real late and we thought we’d be in and out of there. That they’d say, oh, he just has this cough. It’s going go away. They ended up admitting us into the hospital and we were there for quite some time. And after a number of tests, it turned out that he had something called pertussis, which is also known as whooping cough.

Andrew: Ah.

Richie: And, you know, I heard of whooping cough before, but I thought it was something from the past. You know, he had his shots and everything, we thought, was fine. He was a healthy little boy, but now he has this disease. And you never expect this to happen. It’s your worst nightmare.

But, one night the nurse came in and let us know that he probably wouldn’t make it. And we did everything in our power, just loving him and praying and just everything we could. Just hoping and wishing that this wouldn’t be his fate. And I remember my wife and I literally just holding hands over our little baby and promising to each other that we wouldn’t let this experience destroy us. That somehow for him, for his sake, we would make it bring us together.

And, unfortunately, he did end up passing away. And you can’t imagine, like, coming into the world and coming into this hospital with this wonderful baby boy and then leaving empty handed. It was horrifying. And, again, this experience just crushed us to the core. And people sometimes ask, Richie, what did you learn from your brother-in-law passing away? From your son passing away? And I boil it down to this.

I call it Gavins’ law, in their honor, which is live to start, start to live. Because when you really live to start those ideas that are pressing on your mind, you really will start living. And again, we have a limited amount of time and so when these ideas do press on our mind, a lot of times we push them away thinking it’s something for later or it’s a stupid idea.

But, because of this experience, that life is short, I realized, you know what, we should embrace these ideas and do something with them now so we can live a life without regret.

Andrew: And at the time you were president at a financial services company and you decided I’m going to do something that maybe sounds stupid. What was that?

Richie: So I started really looking at my life and saying, “What am I doing and what do I really want to be doing?” And I was president of a financial services company and life wasn’t terrible, but I wanted to be in a situation where I could be writing and be an author and make an income and make a living doing that, that I could go speak to people all over the world and inspire others and to tell Gavin’s story.

It was just kind of what I wanted to do, so I ended up looking at my life and talking to my wife about it and I did, I quit. I quit being the president of this financial services company and we went on a three month long road trip. We traveled from Hawaii to Florida and we went all the way up, then we went over to the West Coast and we went up into Canada and I went on a surf trip into Costa Rica.

We were doing projects along the way that helped provide the income we needed to make this work, but we can get more into that as we go. In reality, I started living the life I wanted to live instead of waiting to live that life I wanted in the future, which I knew was an illusive future. We think that all these things are going to happen; when I finally do this, when I finally finish that. Because of the deaths of my brother-in-law and my son I realized, ‘No, I need to act on it now.’ and I moved forward and then created a business around that lifestyle.

Andrew: And I’ve seen so much of what you’ve done because you’ve taken that step. I have it here. . . I don’t how much of this I could even read in here. Let me get a few of it in. His book Resumes are Dead, which is a previous book and What to do About It, hit number one on the business and investment list, number one in careers, number one in job hunting, and broke the top 100 of all free Kindle books. His book, The “Power of Starting Stupid” also broke the top 100 books on Amazon and hit number one in multiple categories.

In 2013, San Francisco Book Festival named “The Power of Starting Something Stupid” the winner of the business category and the grand prize winner of all book categories in its annual competition. He’s a strategic adviser to businesses, organizations, and individuals, and an international speaker and CEO and Founder of Global Consulting Circle. Richie has been featured in Forbes, Business Week, Young Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, and other national publications both printed online.

There’s so much more. 2010, the Pacific Business News recognized Richie as one of the Top 40 Under 40 best and brightest young businessmen in Hawaii and so much more. And it’s because you wanted to do this for a long time and you finally said, “I’m going to.” This is what we’re going to be talking about here today. How to figure out what it is that we even want to do and then get ourselves to do it without feeling a sense of overwhelm.

This is where you are today, but you started out small and we’re going to talk about that. I’ve got a list of ideas, as I said, that we pulled from the book that we hope, that we know actually, will directly apply to our audience. And here’s the first one, you say, ‘Look through the stupid filter to find a smart business idea.’ One person who’s done that. . . I always like to see examples. Here’s. . . Who’s this woman who’s really happy?

Richie: That’s Sara Blakely and she’s the founder of a company called Spanx. And she. . . It’s a crazy story. She, to kind of boil it down, she had this idea to basically cut off the feet of pantyhose, hosiery, and turn it into a product for women that was different than what was traditionally out there. She started shopping this idea. She went to many factorers [??], she went to lawyers, and she went all around telling what she was trying to do.

I remember one instance in her autobiography or interview that she did where she says that. . . It’s so funny. That even the lawyer said to her, they asked, “Am I on Candid Camera?” They thought seriously like the stupidest thing they ever heard. It became something that she really wanted to do and so she kept pushing through it, pushing through it, pushing through it, until she finally talked to one guy who could help her make it happen.

I believe he was one of the owners of a manufacturing company that could help her make this happen. He actually went and asked the daughters if her idea. . . If it was something that they would use and his daughters said, “Yeah, that is something that we would use.” So, that totally changes paradigm and he said, “Okay, let’s try it out.” And Sara Blakely became the first self-made female billionaire in the world. And so. . .

Andrew: And here it is from this idea. There she is on the cover of Forbes.

Richie: There you go, from this idea. And it was a stupid idea and that’s the interesting thing, is that sometimes it’s the stupid ideas that are actually not necessarily inherently stupid. It’s just that they’re perceived as stupid because we’re afraid of them, they’re different, they’re unconventional. When in reality, it can be the smartest thing you could do. I actually call it the three T’s of stupidity. Everything from the telephone to the Model T to Twitter were at one time called stupid or crazy but they turned out to be these fantastic, you know, services and products and all that.

Andrew: All right and in order to get to that, one of the things you suggest we do is write down all of our ideas, turn off that part of us that says this is stupid, this makes sense, this is a billion dollar idea. Just write them all down. You did that early on. What was on your list?

Richie: Oh that’s a really good question. I actually, when I wrote it down, I actually broke it up into areas of my life. I literally sat down and said, okay, what I want to do with my family. You know, I’m married, I have kids. That’s not everyone’s situation so whatever your situation is think about that. But I started with that and then I went over about to my education and what I want to do with that.

What about giving back to the world? What about my finances? And I started going through this whole thing and I wrote down things with my family about how I wanted to be there for them. I got specific. I want to be able to drive them to school, pick them up from school, I want to be able to go on vacations when we need to. I got into education and I started writing down, I had a dream to go to a school called Thunderbird it’s the number one international business school in the world. All they do is international business and that was a dream of mine. I wanted to go back and get an MBA there.

So I wrote that down. I wrote about different charities I wanted to work with and sports programs I wanted to coach. And I wrote down how much money I wanted to make in a year so that I could support this lifestyle. I literally wrote it all down and by doing that it was really interesting because that’s what triggered us to go on this, that three month long trip.

Then I mentioned, it also triggered, and this is kind of a double-edged sword. I was living in Hawaii at the time but this school, Thunderbird, was based in Arizona. So because I wrote this down, we packed up and left Hawaii and moved to Arizona because that was the right thing to do for us at the time. My wife was on board, my kids were on board. And it was interesting, you can write down all the so-called stupid ideas that you want but it’s important to recognize that you’re not necessarily going to do them all.

You need to write them all down, just get it out. Download, so to speak, and then you can look at them and start evaluating which ones are most important, which ones you need to do first and then create a strategy of how you’re going to move forward and make them happen.

Andrew: Okay, just write them down, think about which ones are the most important, which have priority and then start doing them.

Richie: That’s right.

Andrew: All right, here’s another thing that we’ve pulled out of the book which is to work on an idea that excites you. I’m not sure if I can show this. Let me see if I can. I’m going to actually, oh here we go I can here and then mute it so that you and I can talk. I don’t know if you’ve seen this. Do you recognize this guy?

Richie: I know who that is but I haven’t seen this one. Oh my gosh.

Andrew: Look at what he’s doing. This is him in his company, just, who is this person?

Richie: That’s my friend Jace, Jace Bennet [SP] and he’s a crazy guy. Who would have thought you would skateboard on a skateboard ramp on one of those things? Whatever that things called.

Andrew: I don’t even know what that’s called.

Richie: Right.

Andrew: Usually you’re told by the guy who runs the company, “Do not touch it, we have insurance issues, you know, we can’t.” This is the same guy here. Let me show you a head on photo from his Facebook profile. Thankfully his Facebook profile is public so I was able to grab it. There he is.

Richie: You know what’s funny about that? That was actually a dare. We’ll talk about his company but part of his work is they have a road show in Costco and he was getting his hair cut and we dared him to actually shave his head in a Mohawk and go to Costco like that. Can you imagine the owner of the company walking into Costco like that? But he did it, man, this guy’s a crazy guy. It’s pretty cool.

Andrew: So what did he do? He at some point in his life, he ran over your son’s skateboard, right?

Richie: Yeah, he pulled into our driveway and ran over my son’s longboard skateboard and I was like, it’s okay, it’s not your fault, that kind of stuff happens, my son shouldn’t have had it in the driveway anyways. And he felt terrible. So he went home and over a number of weeks he started, he actually, created, cut out a new longboard skateboard for my son.

And I thought that’s really cool, that’s really nice, thanks so much, you know, we appreciated it. Then he took it one step further he said, “Do you think I could start a business out of this?” And I was like, “I don’t know, I don’t know.” And it was something that did get him excited and it was something that he could talk about. Before that on the skateboards, he was doing real estate at the time.

And it was interesting because as he was doing his real estate, he would talk to people, too, about what he did on skateboards. And he ended up meeting someone who knew about manufacturing overseas and locally, and as they talked and because he was so excited about what he was doing, he was able to transfer that passion from him to others and create this network of people who could help him trim this one-off skateboard into an actual company. So he did that.

They’re now in Costco. They’re selling, literally, thousands – I can’t disclose their numbers – but they’re selling skateboards all over the United States and then online they’re selling them all over the world. They have reps all over the world. What’s interesting is it was a saturated industry. There was a lot of people doing, obviously, skateboards, but he went for a market that was different. He said, “You know what? I don’t want to be grunge and skeletons and skulls,” and he knew that it was moms buying skateboards for their kids . . . Andrew: Mm, yeah.

Richie: . . . for the youth, so he went more for this bamboo feel, clean feel, and he went somewhere like Costco, where they weren’t selling skateboards and it was somewhere that other people weren’t going, and so he was able to turn that excitement into an affluent business.

Andrew: I see. So do follow your passion in this case. It worked for him and if you do do that, one of the suggestions you have is to aim for those small wins. And also, speaking of, this is another guy, see if I can pull this up, too. Got this off of his Twitter profile. I don’t know if you recognize that photo, but I think that’s Andy Price.

Richie: Andy Pearce, yes.

Andrew: Pearce, excuse me.

Richie: Yeah, yeah. So Andy Pearce, he is an amazing – as you can tell by the picture – an amazing surfer. And he was surfing at Sunset Beach on Oahu. Waves were about twenty feet and he’d surfed big waves before but this day was a little different and the wind was blowing really hard. And when the wind blows hard, the board kind of stays up higher on the wave sometimes and you kind of get caught before you can drop in.

Anyway, he got caught up on the lip of this wave and then kind of thrown down, almost like being thrown or jumping off a violent waterfall. And the board came up flying behind him and almost like an axe, just smashed his leg and actually broke his femur in half. And . . .

Andrew: Wow.

Richie: . . . he thought he was going to die. I mean, wave after wave after wave kept pounding on top of him and there was no one there to help him. And he literally thought, “What is going to happen to me? Is this the end?” Fortunately, somebody came and grabbed him and they kind of got on the same board and they would hold him really tight, so when the waves would hit them, they would kind of spin around together until they could get out of the impact zone and to an area where they could get in to the beach.

Now that’s a scary story, but what’s interesting is he, after getting a new shiny metal pole put in his leg, he ended up surfing again just a few weeks later. And he was surfing big waves again. Now he’s a fast healer, but what really got me thinking was why? Do you have a death wish? And what was interesting was he said, “You know,” and I said, “Are you scared?” And he said, “You know, everybody’s scared out there.” And I said, “Well, why do you do it?” And he explained that he did it because he loved it and he basically, in my words, his why was bigger than his fear.

And so sometimes, whatever we’re trying to do, if our why is bigger, if we’re more scared of not doing the thing we want to do than we are of actually doing it, we’ll end up making it happen. So as I looked at what his situation was, I realized that you don’t just start surfing if you don’t know how to swim, right?

So he started off learning how to swim, started on small waves, two-foot waves, four-foot waves, five-foot waves, eight-foot waves, ten-foot waves, he built his way up. And along the way, he would fall. He would catch a wave; he would fall. Small waves, but he learned how to handle these spills, so to speak, in a way that when he was at a twenty-foot wave, he could overcome that challenge and stand back up. You don’t just all of a sudden go from zero to twenty feet.

You start and you go incrementally. So when you’re starting a project, a lot of times we think, “I have this great idea,” and we go from zero to twenty feet. We go from zero to building our company. We go from zero to, in Jason’s experience, Costco. We can start thinking from zero to the biggest thing and we’d say, ‘Oh, that’s too big. I can’t do it.’ That’s not the way you go. You start small incrementally. First, learn how to swim, then you do the smaller waves and you work your way up.

So with whatever project you’re trying to do break it down into small, more manageable parts. Start with the first piece that you can do and then if you fall it’s a learning experience that helps you to be able to get back up. So, as you work your way up that ladder you’ll be able to handle yes, the big success, the big failures and move forward.

Andrew: A lot of times though, when we have those small steps that we need to take we feel like, “Well, that’s too small. That’s not where I want to be.” Speaking of swimming, I remember actually when I was learning to swim. The instructor taught me how to kick. I said, “I don’t want to learn how to kick in place, I look ridiculous. I want to learn how to actually swim. You know, like show me how to move around.” But, you know, you have to learn how to kick and you have to learn how to move, you have to learn how to breathe in order to put it all together and swim.

And then once you swim you’re saying, “That’s just one small step for him.” And then he takes it, right. The same things happens for business. How many times do we get a small win and we feel like, “Well, that’s too small. Sara is on the cover of Forbes magazine. Why am I here if she’s over there? Maybe I’m in the wrong place.” You got to start somewhere. You got to start by cutting, you’re saying.

Richie: That’s the problems we. . .

Andrew: Cutting the. . .

Richie: You know, these magazines are great, but when you read them you think, “I can never get to that spot.”

Andrew: Mm-hm.

Richie: You have to go back and look at everything they did. They started. . . Everyone started at somewhere and it started small. And the guys who are doing big deals over and over and over again, that’s because they went from small to the big deal and then they already learned how to ride those 20 foot waves. So they are able to jump from 20 foot wave to 20 foot wave and do big projects every once in a while, but it does, it starts with that first small baby step.

Andrew: All right, onto the next big idea which is to ask yourself, will I regret it when I’m 80? And one person who did that was this guy, Jeff Bezos. How did he do it?

Richie: So this story will kind of tie other things we were talking about together. Jeff Bezos was working on Wall Street and he had a great job and he had this idea to sell books online. And he did his research, saw that the internet was growing fast and he ended up talking to his boss about it and his boss took him on a walk around Central Park and his boss said, “Well, that’s a great idea, but it’s not for someone who already has a job.”

And so it became an idea, but it was a stupid time for him to do it. But he realized that if he didn’t do it he might be missing out on something. He asked himself this one question, he asked, “Will I regret it when I’m 80?” By asking himself that question he realized, “Yes, I would regret not trying to start this Internet business that’s selling books out of my garage.”

He figured it would be something that he would regret and he ended up quitting his job in the middle of the year, which is a crazy time to quit because then on Wall Street you don’t get your annual bonus, packed up his car and moved from New York to Washington and started from his garage.

And now, there you go another example of a billionaire and someone who is changing the world, but what’s interesting about it is, as we talked earlier about creating that list of all the things you want to do, that’s a good way to narrow down which one of them you want to do. Which one would you regret most not doing?

In fact, when Jase Bennett, Jase Boards, he talked to me about starting that company, I asked him that question. I said, “Well, will you regret it when you’re 80?” And because he narrowed down the process to that he said, “You know what, I would regret not doing it.” So he ended up trying it out. So, it’s just a great way to narrow down what you’re trying to do.

Andrew: All right, onto the next one which is to experiment then move forward or move on.

Richie: Okay so, this is really important because yeah, we talked about writing ideas down, we talked about it maybe if it’s stupid, it might be smart, we talked about narrowing it down to something you might regret, but here’s the thing, a lot of times what I found is people will wait to do something they really want to do for so long that when they finally go and do it sometimes it failed, but they built it up to be so big and they wasted their whole life on a dream that never pans out.

So it’s important, like we talked about earlier, to start early, but to experiment so that way you know if it works move forward, if it doesn’t move on. That’s what Darren Rouse did. Darren Rouse, he is the founder of Pro Blogger and also Digital Photography school, a number of other blogs and internet businesses.

What’s interesting about him is if you go back and read his story what you’ll find is that he started small. He started with a little website that was making maybe $5, $10 a day. He started working his way through it trying to see what worked, what didn’t work. He experimented, he told his family about it, and, he thought he was insane. Especially when he said he wanted to turn it into a real business. But, he didn’t just jump ship and neither did Jeff Bezos, and neither did Jase Bennett, and neither did I.

We first experimented on the idea and when it became something that we know could work, then we moved out of our old businesses and into our new businesses to make it work. So we started small and we turned it into a multi-million dollar franchise, and, it all started by experimenting.

Andrew: Was the original idea for Pro-Blogger, that was just a series of pokes that he did on his personal blog. Is that right?

Richie: I think he had a number of blogs, even before Pro-blogger and I don’t know the history of Pro-blogger specifically, but, I know that it was a number of Internet businesses that he started. And, then, I think he took those principles and moved over to Pro-blogger, what he was learning.

Andrew: Okay, and when you say, moved over, it means, obviously, continue building it, or move on. I mean, it’s okay, sometimes, to just say, this idea didn’t work out, I’m closing it down. Instead of continuing because you will not take the loss, because you don’t want to quit.

Richie: It’s important to call it quits when, I think Zack Gooden calls it a cul-de-sac, in his book, “The Dip.” If it’s a cul-de-sac, you need to quit, if it’s not going to pan out, maybe it was a really stupid idea. Or, at least, a stupid timing. But, at least, you can live your life knowing you gave it a chance, and it was a small scale, you know, we talked about ramping up. So, that it wasn’t waiting around you whole life to do this big thing and it’s a big fail. It was a small fall, and you learned from it, and now you know what to do moving forward.

Andrew: Alright, on to the next one. And, that is, to weed out non- essential tasks and work on your idea. For you, you set an alarm to ring every fifteen minutes, is that right?

Richie: Yeah, so, what I’ll do, it’s something that helps me get focused. If I wake up and I have my routine, but what happens is, that routine can get all changed up, depending on if a kid has a rough night sleeping, or if a number of things happen, I find myself opening up e-mail and getting trapped in e-mail, lan, and then I can spend my whole day doing these activities, and I felt like I was productive, but I didn’t actually produce anything.

And so, what I try to do is narrow down that. Will I regret it when I’m 80 project, we narrow that project down, and, then we say, I’m going to spend, because we have other jobs, other things we’re doing, and it may not be a full time thing. So what you do for yourself, is, I’m going to give myself a 15 minutes of undivided attention to this project. And, you turn a timer on, this is what I do, that helps me, and, I just crank on it until I’m done. And, in 15 minutes, it goes off, hey, wow, that’s amazing, I got it done.

And if I want to do more time, I give it 15 minutes again, and, I keep moving and moving and moving until I have to move on to other things. But, this also works for time you want to waste, of browsing the internet, or in e-mail. If you set yourself a time-limit, and say I’m only going to do it for this amount of time, you know that you’re able to manage your time well and balance so you can focus your priorities and do the things that actually produce and not just feel productive.

Andrew: It looks like you have a fly in the room or something there, huh?

Richie: My hands are going everywhere.

Andrew: Isn’t that distracting when that happens?

Richie: Maybe that’s a good analogy there, right, if the fly keeps bothering you, so you can’t get anything done that you want to get done. It’s true, and, everything’s always going to temp you to move away from the projects that you want to do. But, if you get serious about the project that you want to do, set yourself some dedicated time, and, actually work on it. You will make some real progress.

Andrew: I imagine that must have helped you when you were writing the book. Writing a book is really tough.

Richie: It’s a beast. And, if you think writing a book is going to be this great, awe inspiring, wonderful thing, you’re going to sit in this little man cave and get it done, when, in reality, it’s just hard, it’s just so much work when you get into it. But, it was so important to find ways to dedicate time to it. And, you know, I’d pull all nighters, and I’d do all those things to meet deadlines, but, in reality, I didn’t set aside time to get it done, it never would have gotten done.

Andrew: This is cool that you attended, and I see that they’ve got you, that you wrote up the book and your success with it. It must be great to actually see that, after all that hard work.

Richie: Yeah, now, looking back, after I did write down those things I wanted to do, and made the time to actually make them happen, it really is amazing to think that I’ve now accomplished that, I’ve done the executive MBA program from Thunderbird, I’ve written this book, I’ve gone around the world. I spoke to more than 20,000 people last year from Bali to the Dominican Republic, all over the United States. It’s amazing and it all started with my own stupid idea. So I really believe that embracing those ideas, you can make magic happen.

Andrew: Onto the next one which is START with what’s right in front of you. What does START stand for?

Richie: Okay, so START’s an acronym I created after researching what successful people did. I literally spent six years studying what it was that successful people did. And I came up with a number of principles and I tried to encapsulate it with this word START, which stands for Serve, Think, Ask, Receive and Trust. Start with service. When you have an idea, serve others in the capacity that you can in alignment with the project you want to do.

People always think they have to wait to get paid if there’s something they want to do. Successful people don’t wait to get paid. They start doing it anyway. Serving the people you want to serve – and you thank them, even if people should be thank you, you thank them. And by doing that you show you’re grateful and that gratitude creates this wonderful influence and people want to start working with you.

And you create this relationship of trust where you can finally ask people for help because asking can actually burn bridges in a lot of ways, but if you ask by first having served and thanked, you ask them in a way that I call mission matching. You align your mission with their mission and you ask for something that’s in line with what you want to do.

Then you can be open to receiving and you can receive what you’re trying to do graciously, gratefully, kind of like in football. There’s the receiver, the quarterback throws the football to him, he’s meant to receive it, not to just [??] it down. And so we need to be open to receiving. And lots . . .

Andrew: I have such a hard time with receiving. That’s why I’m smiling.

Richie: It’s so hard because people will offer things to you, and you might be, “Oh, no, no, I’m okay. I’m okay,”Because you don’t want to put someone out, you don’t want to be a mooch, whatever it is.

Andrew: Yeah.

Richie: But in reality, successful do. They receive all the time. But they’ve also been giving, right? They’ve been giving this whole time. So the idea of receiving, it’s different than giving. When you get, it’s like getting a present and not opening it. When you receive, you get the present, you open it, and you do something with it.

Going back to the football analogy, you catch the ball and you run and score a touchdown with it. So if I were to offer you something and you were to receive it gratefully and then do something with it, that’s a win for both of us. So that’s really important. Serve, Think, Ask, Receive and the last one is Trust. If you can trust this process, everything goes faster. Everything moves fluidly.

When there’s distrust, then there’s lawyers and contracts. Not that those are necessarily bad. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t, but everything’s slowed down. But when you trust, everything moves forward in a more fluid manner.

Andrew: And that last part, which is Start with what’s in front of you . . .

Richie: Okay.

Andrew: . . . comes from a section of your book where you talk about Muhammad Yunus. There he is. A student said to him, “There’s so many things that concern me, so many problems that I need to work on. Where should I start?” And he said . . .

Richie: He said, “Start with what’s right in front of you.” He’s one of my heroes. I love Muhammad Yunus. He . . . you know his story . . . he was in Bangladesh and he was an economics professor and he saw all these people literally on his doorstep and they were kind of like . . . he described them as living skeletons, people that were so poor they couldn’t feed themselves.

And here he was, preaching these great economic theories. So he went out into the villages and he found that for only $27.00, he could help a number of villagers get out of the loan shark situation and work on their own businesses. Over time, that idea – they call him the Father of Microlending – turned into this massive, I guess, you can call it an industry, where they’re helping the unbankable be bankable.

Basically, he’s helping people work their way out of poverty, using their own skills. And he started with what was right in front of him. He could have been in the classroom, just talking about these great theories and what the governments can do, but instead he went out and he went, “$27.00,” and then it turned into this massive enterprise and that model has been used over and over and over again. He started with service.

So you do whatever it is you’re trying to do, look at what’s right in front of you and start with that. Don’t try and reach for all these things you don’t have. There’s a lot of stuff that’s right there you can do right now.

Andrew: Okay. I used to be overwhelmed, too, with I want to start somehow not just doing interviews on Mixergy but teaching something. How do I get it? Where do I get the software done?

Then, I had this software that I’m using right now to do things like put the camera on me, put the camera just on you, this and that and all this stuff. I just had it on my computer. I said you know what? This is just some free piece of software that’s available online. It’s called CamTwist. What if I just push myself and come up with some way of adding teaching sessions to Mixergy with whatever I have, without trying to think of how do I rent a studio, without trying to think of how do I fly someone in or fly someone out?

Or, just say whatever software I have, I could do it. So, much of what’s around here was actually originally created using Keynote, because that was available, and CamTwist because I had that. And, the recording was with Call Recorder because I had that.

I see what you mean. I get so overwhelmed sometimes with all the big ideas that I have. But, you’ve got to start with what’s there.

Richie: That’s a perfect example. If you hadn’t started with what you had right in front of you, you may have gone out and spent a lot of money on things you didn’t even need. You may not have even started at all.

Andrew: Right, right.

Richie: So it’s really important. Just start with what’s right in front of you and then work your way up. It ties back into that wave theory. Just start with the small ones and then progress incrementally.

Andrew: I do have one other point here that was actually kind of hiding underneath for no good reason. There it is. The final point that I wanted to bring up is to leverage existing resources. You give a great example of the woman behind this product. Let me see if I get… I can, of course, bring it up. There it is.

Richie: Yes.

Andrew: Do you recognize those moccasins?

Richie: I do, I do. This is…

Andrew: [??] by this woman who…

Richie: This is… So, her name’s Susan Peterson. This is a great story. She got married, started having kids, and their family was struggling financially. Her husband was in school. She wanted to figure out ways that she could help contribute and take care financially and also take care of the kids at the same time.

Her husband at the time was replacing windows for a job. She had this idea where she asked can I take the aluminum from the windows that are being taken out and recycle it for money. The owner of the company said sure.

So what was she going to do with this money and why does she do that? Well, someone told her you should start selling stuff online. So, she’s like okay I should sell stuff online. That’s like the 50,000 foot level. She started trying different things. Some things worked, some things didn’t.

Then, she had this idea. Oh my gosh, there’s… Sorry, this fly’s still here.

Andrew: I see it. It is haunting us, taunting us.

Richie: The fly doesn’t want me to tell this story.

Andrew: Right.

Richie: She looked at her baby’s feet basically and said there are no cute shoes for my baby. She got a pattern for shoes and said what if I did them out of leather, what if I made moccasins. So, she made moccasins for her baby and then she started selling them online I think on Etsy. People thought it was cool.

Andrew: …[??]…

Richie: So many people thought it was cool that she started making more and more and more. With the cash flow she got she was able to buy more products instead of having to recycle the aluminum. She was able to create more.

One day, I don’t know if you knew this part, she got a call. I think it was from Parent magazine, Parenting magazine, one of these magazines, that one of the Kardashians wanted to use her shoes in their photo shoot. She being naive was like I’m not going to give you shoes for free.

Andrew: So she charged them?

Richie: Well, she was going to, then they went back and said let me tell you how this works. She ended up giving the shoes. Now not only do the Kardashian babies almost every time you see their babies, go back and look if you want to, they’re always wearing these moccasins, but several celebrities are using them.

And, her business has started booming. She does a lot of her marketing on Instagram doing a lot of contests and things about baby moccasins. Recently she was on “Shark Tank” and…

Andrew: By the way, here, while I’m looking for the Kardashian photos I automatically will try to tee stuff up.

Richie: Yeah.

Andrew: I can kind of see it, but I don’t know what the Kardashians look like. This is Penelope wearing chambray one piece…

Richie: …[??]…

Andrew: …no gap. Oh,…

Richie: [??] might be wearing moccasins.

Andrew: Moccasins by Freshly Picked.

Richie: Yeah, that’s it, yeah.

Andrew: Where is it? More moccasins.

Richie: There you go.

Andrew: There we go. Kim Kardashian, Freshly Picked moccasins on Kim Kardashian’s blog. Yeah, wow.

Richie: Isn’t that crazy and again, it started with a stupid idea to sell things online. She didn’t know what it was going to be. She experimented. She started small. Everything that we’d be talking about she did, but bringing you back to the principal, leveraging existing resources. That’s what she did.

She didn’t have the money to buy leather to make the shoes, so she recycled aluminum from her husband’s company. That’s what we’re talking about. Starting with what’s right in front of you and leveraging those existing resources.

We always think that whatever we want to do is outside of us when in reality it might be right here, right in front of us. So, it’s very cool.

Andrew: Alright, well, these are . . . I think these are ideas that entrepreneurs need to hear that we do keep thinking that we’re one big thing away from getting started. One big idea, one big customer, one big funding round, one big something outside of us and always out of reach when in reality you’re saying, start smaller.

Don’t be afraid to jump on ideas that seem stupid and pursue a passion that you’re willing to stick with and it will give you a life that you want like, one that will allow you to do this. Sorry, you were about to say something.

Richie: No. Yeah, like you’re getting whatever you want right there. That’s so true. There’s one more thing I might add.

Andrew: Yeah.

Richie: Is when you’re doing it, whatever you’re trying to do, call it a project, name it a project. So instead of saying I have this idea for X, Y, Z, call it the X, Y, Z Project because a project can fail, a project has a beginning and an end. A project is an experiment.

So whatever you narrow your idea down to, call it the whatever project. Set yourself some time to get it done in a deadline to hit different milestones and then you’ll start getting on track because a year from now when you look back you’ll either have done something with your idea or nothing and it’ll be way better to have done something to know it’s not going to work out and [??] held onto it for that whole time or to have started, to get to a point where you can leave whatever you’re doing now to do exactly what you want to be doing. So, start small and call it a project and just make it happen.

Andrew: Great advice. The book is called The Power of Starting Something Stupid. If you click over on the home page and go to Amazon you’ll see Richie’s got a bunch of really positive reviews. They’re like this 115 customer reviews. Almost five stars. No one’s going to give you even if you wrote the new . . . even if you wrote the Bible, you aren’t going to get five stars.

People have to come in and rag on you a bit, but frankly this is really positive reviews from a book that’s full of great examples some of which we’ve covered here in this program but there are many more, much more depth to even the ones that we did talk about. The book is available everywhere. Go out, get it, grab it, read it and start something stupid, right?

Richie: That’s right.

Andrew: Alright.

Richie: Absolutely right. Make it happen.

Andrew: And the website if people want to follow-up with you. This is the site that I’ve been going to. It’s just He’s one of the few lucky people out there who has his . . . Did you have to change your name to Richie Norton? Was it like Richard Norton? Someone else had so you went for Richie Norton?

Richie: I didn’t even look for Richard Norton. I just stuck with Richie.

Andrew: Alright. Well, congratulations on getting your name. Makes it so much easier to send people over to your site and right on the site we can see that there’s these 37 page action guide to make your stupid idea your smart reality and the 76 day challenge right at the very top of the page. Thank you so much for doing this.

Richie: Oh, it was my honor. Thanks so much for having me on. I really do appreciate it. It’s been great.

Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of it. Go do something stupid.


  • Mitesh

    I’ve transferred all the gems of wisdom in this interview into my common book. Awesome interview by the way.

  • Sean Saulsbury

    Best tidbit I got out of this: “Call it a project.” We all have a bunch of ideas but if we just hold them as ideas they are pretty meaningless — “call it project” not only brings the idea to mind, it also prompts your subconscious for next-action items. Great idea! I’m going to to use it :).

  • Erik van Mechelen

    Just rewatched. Maybe you planted the seed w/ the 15-min timer because I used similar tactic to write for nearly six hours straight to complete the first draft of an e-book just last week. Thanks for the generosity with the action guide, too.